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The Israel Defense Forces must investigate its soldiers? failure to prevent a group of settlers from attacking and wounding eight Palestinians on Saturday, a human rights group demanded yesterday.?

In a letter to Military Advocate General Avichai Mendelblit, Yesh Din ? Volunteers for Human Rights requested a Military Police investigation into the incident, which took place outside the West Bank village of Asira al-Kabiliya.?

?So far, no one has been arrested in connection with the incident, which sends lawbreakers a message that Palestinian lives are not worthy of protection,? attorney Michael Sfard wrote on behalf of the group. He added that Yesh Din had video footage showing that soldiers refrained from stopping the settlers.?

Shortly after the incident, a senior IDF officer claimed the troops had acted in accordance with regulations by barring the settlers from entering Asira al-Kabiliya.?

The Knesset?s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee also discussed the incident yesterday, along with clashes between right- and left-wing activists in Hebron.?

Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told the committee that settler attacks on soldiers demonstrate ?complete disregard for the law.??

?There has been a dramatic rise in the number of offenses against Palestinians and IDF soldiers in the West Bank,? he said. ?How many people are behind bars for attacking IDF soldiers? I have a feeling I know the answer.??

A senior police officer presented data showing that there have been 407 violent incidents by settlers since the beginning of the year, compared with only 366 in all of 2007.